Monday, November 21, 2016

No Snowless Winter This Year

Holy crap. When I left work yesterday morning, there was perhaps an inch of snow on the ground, and none on the roads or other surfaces. The forecast was for one to four inches all day; we were supposed to be on the fringe of a major lake-effect band sweeping southeast from Lake Ontario.
Well, as my daughter might have told me twelve years ago, "WRONG!" The band shifted a few miles to the south, and we have gotten--I don't really know how much, but it's a lot more than four inches. It's so windy it's hard to tell exactly, but I'm guessing we've gotten at least a foot. After spending nearly an hour shoveling this mess this morning--and it's been made worse by the fact that the ground was warmer than the air, and the stuff on the driveway and sidewalk is melting on the bottom, making it about as easy to move around as wet concrete--I have gained a new appreciation for those of my friends that live or went to school in places like Buffalo, Oswego, and Watertown.
The band, according to the National Weather Service's radar, has shifted back north a few miles, and may it stay there. The worst part about being outside now isn't the snow, but the serious wind, which made my face raw and is too much even for the dog. I want to stress that I am not really complaining; I like winter, I don't mind snow as such (especially after it stops falling), and from an environmental standpoint, we need snow every winter to make sure that the rest of the year works like it should climate-wise. But the dog is a complicating factor now. He's short-haired, and I was figuring on getting him a vest/coat thingy for Christmas. Unfortunately, nature didn't wait, and he very much doesn't want to leave the house in this weather. I did shovel out a small patch of grass hoping he would use it as his rest room, but he just looked at me when I took him out like "you have to be kidding." The forecast for the rest of the week is temperatures just above freezing for most of it, but with no sunny days, so we're going to be looking at this snow for some time now.  I'm going to guess that we've taken our last long walk for a couple of weeks.
And it is such a letdown to have major snowfalls on a day you're not supposed to work. School was cancelled (phone call at 5:40 AM; I would have thought that could have been done last night, but I've really stopped expecting the Binghamton City School District to do anything right; that's a subject for another post someday), so Artemis the hunter is going to be laying around here all day. The animal loving, redneck-hating, peace-love-and-understanding hippie liberal kid went freaking hunting with her Friend That Is Male. I am appalled, and I'm not even going to hide it. But that's a subject for another time, too. But I had a lot of stuff I wanted to do today, and I will be lucky to do half of it, and in the afternoon if I do get to it. And I'm willing to bet that the City plow isn't going to hit this street until the afternoon, either; I discovered eight years ago that my street is not a priority on whatever "list" there is, and that is unlikely to change anytime soon. The one saving grace from years past is that this street was completely repaved this year; it is unlikely that it will resemble Sarajevo circa 1994 this winter and spring.
It has stopped falling, or at least falling hard. I came inside an hour ago, and the driveway has a very light dusting on it. My thoughts have now turned to the poor bastards that have to drive to work. I have a good friend whose first day on the job is this morning; I hope she leaves early because I doubt it's going to be a fun drive in. I thought briefly of the other night shift guy at my job, who lives in Newark Valley and must have had one hell of a ride in last night and has an even worse drive home ahead of him--assuming he even came in. I am extremely grateful that visitation day at Willard is Saturday instead of Sunday; I would still be trying to get home if I was up Ithaca/ Watkins Glen way yesterday.
Last year was so, so odd, with no measurable snow at all the entire season. Several people have already pointed out that we've exceeded last winter's total already, by several inches. This feels more like normal, and with Thanksgiving this week, it actually is starting to seem like a return to a better time (Make America Great Again by shoveling snow! What climate change? But that's a subject for another post, too). Joking aside, in this time of major societal upheaval and uncertainty, it kind of is refreshing to know that nature really doesn't give a shit what we do; it adjusts to our effects, but in the long run, human activity is a cold, a boil, a minor hiccup. A million years from now, the earth is going to be here, even if we aren't (and we're not going to be). The carbon dioxide levels will be somewhat normal again, and life will move on the merry little circle it has moved on for eons.
And my ashes will have long ago been re-integrated into the dirt, with little or no evidence that I was ever here. So as I stretch and deal with the pain in my back and prepare to go shovel a longer doggy rest-room on the lawn, I am pondering the long-term insignificance of it all, and believe it or not, taking some comfort in it.
Which tells me that recommitting to recovery recently, spending time around Mark and Aldo, and actually paying attention to some of my more philosophical friends like the younger Mark and John, is having some effect. The last thing I was thinking this morning, leaning on a shovel, looking at the cleared driveway behind me and the sidewalk still to go, was that it was a pretty good metaphorical representation of how this last year has gone for me, too. The work isn't done, and there is some difficulty still ahead--but the lion's share of the work has been taken care of, and there's a real sense of accomplishment I feel about it. I have no control over when the plow is going to come and creating a new mess to clean up, and I can't make the dog take a dump on command, and I have no control over the dingbat next door and when she is going to use her snowblower with all the accuracy of a drunk trying to take a piss against the wall during a hurricane. Whatever and whenever it happens, I'll deal with it then, and I will do what has to be done. And while I am not the center of the universe, last winter, looking for a job and with Lauren away for months, I really needed to not have to deal with winter weather, and I got what I needed. This year, situations are different; I'm not traveling and driving so much, and so it is a matter of indifference to me whether it snows or not.

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